The American Spectator reports that:

At a rally yesterday at which he accepted the endorsement of Maine Gov. John Baldacci, Kerry faced down a heckler in the Portland audience who called out, “Why don’t you tell them about your vote on the war and the Patriot Act?”

Kerry responded that he would — but in time. “I never run away from anything, especially George Bush,” Kerry said.

The candidate seemed to be quick on his feet in the response, and his retort garnered applause. Perhaps his quick thinking was the result of knowing the jibe was coming.

According to a Kerry campaign source, the campaign has been looking to plant local volunteers in crowds to mix it up, and to make it appear their man is facing down tough questioning. “This kind of confrontation pushes him up the line in news coverage,” says the staffer. “Instead of facing a tough question from a reporter, the news guys have this seeming give and take to report on.”

This goes to something Ramesh Ponnuru cited off TNR a couple of weeks ago. Kerry has not yet had a hard time. His opponents are not attacking him directly and now it is too late. So, he’s not battle tested. How will he be able to respond when the GOP starts to pummel him?